There's no accounting for what makes something go viral. Talking dogs, a natural. The flip-cup craze, random but understandable. "That hot new ADHD toy" — slightly out of left field.
But that is where we're living now, and if YouTube has anything to say about it (or everything to say about it), fidget spinners are the hot new way to make yourself feel better while potentially driving those around you crazy.
What is a fidget spinner?
A fidget spinner is a palm-sized plastic disc with arms, which is held between the thumb and forefinger and rotates like a ceiling fan once flicked. The spinners were created to help children with ADHD, OCD or anxiety achieve focus and calm. Basically, the disc does the fidgeting, so they don't have to. "For some people [with ADHD], there's a need for constant stimulation," Elaine Taylor-Klaus of ImpactADHD told CNN. "What a fidget allows some people with ADHD to do is to focus their attention on what they want to focus on, because there's sort of a background motion that's occupying that need."
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But some unforeseen side effects cropped up: The colorful toys lend themselves to collecting and customizing — countless shapes and fabrications are available, some costing up to $10,000 — and can be used in complicated tricks, like skateboarding for your thumbs. YouTube is flooded with videos showing off such techniques:
Thus they're blowing off the shelves of toy stores, like the Tamagochis and Rubik's Cubes of generations yore. They're so omnipresent that some schools have banned them. Richard Gottlieb, founder of the consultancy Global Toy Experts, say they're so popular because they give today's overscheduled kids a way to blow off steam.
Is the fidget spinner toy a stress reducer?
If you're the rare adult who needs your arm twisted to indulge in toy fads, know that adults can find benefits in these things. Having an outlet for your nervous energy can help you feel more present in the moment and more focused at work. And they can relieve generalized stress and anxiety. "People in general are pretty stressed out right now by Brexit, the various elections, Donald Trump, Syria, North Korea, you name it," said Gottlieb. "So, it is a good time to be selling something that allows an individual to fidget off some stress – particularly at a time when smoking is looked down on."